SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s Third Appellate District has upheld a 2019 murder conviction in relation to the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old during a Cinco de Mayo house party fight over a gang-tied rap song two years prior.
Attorneys for Kejhonne Henderson, serving 72-to-life for the murder of Jordan Pannell in 2017, raised, among other points, that the trial court erred by dismissing several prospective Black jurors who believed Black defendants were treated unfairly in court, unseated a juror for lying about an interaction in a local coffee shop with a defense lawyer’s colleague, and claimed Henderson’s original counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to submit a Franklin package for youth parole consideration in the future.
Three judges ruled in an opinion issued last month that the two Black jurors were dismissed because they “could not be impartial” due to their sympathy for Henderson, and said the court erred in dismissing the seated juror due to dishonesty but found that the error was harmless under People v. Watson.
Justice Andrea Lynn Hoch split from her colleagues on the Franklin packet issue but sided with her colleagues on every remaining claim.
Henderson’s conviction was ultimately upheld, but the trial court will be allowed to consider striking a gun enhancement in favor of a lesser one.
Henderson, now 23, shot Pannell in the back after challenging him to a fight following a confrontation over a Mozzy song.
Mozzy, one of the city’s biggest musical success stories, is a validated member of the Fourth Avenue Bloods in Oak Park, according to prosecutors. They say his music is known to disparage members of the Del Paso Heights Bloods, who Henderson was affiliated with.
Henderson approached someone at the party, referred to in court records as M.L., and told her to “turn that sucka shit off” as soon as he heard the rapper come over the speakers.
“Strictly twos, Del Paso Heights,” Henderson said.
As Henderson barked at M.L. in the living room, Pannell, who was her close friend, walked out of the kitchen. He asked if everything was alright before confronting Henderson, who challenged him to a fight.
“What you tryin’ to do?” he asked. “Let’s step outside.”
As Pannell turned and stepped outside, Henderson drew a handgun and opened fire on Pannell’s back, striking him in the back of the head. The teen would die before EMS could arrive.
“He didn’t even give him a chance,” a witness to the scene told police.
After Henderson stopped firing, a friend of Pannell’s attempted to disarm him. He shot the friend too – a stray bullet hitting M.L.’s mom in the thigh. They both survived.